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Ben Folds - Supersunnyspeedgraphic: The LP (Cover Artwork)

Ben Folds

Ben Folds: Supersunnyspeedgraphic: The LPSupersunnyspeedgraphic: The LP (2006)
Sony Music Entertainment

Reviewer Rating: 3.5
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Contributed by: JohnGentileJohnGentile
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In 2000 the Ben Folds Five, on Caroline Records, breaks up. In 2001, Ben Folds releases his first solo record, Rockin' the Suburbs on Epic Records, part of the Sony BMG conglomerate. In 2003 and 2004, Ben Folds releases three EPs through his own distributorship, Attacked by Plastic. In 2005, Ben Fol.
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In 2000 the Ben Folds Five, on Caroline Records, breaks up. In 2001, Ben Folds releases his first solo record, Rockin' the Suburbs on Epic Records, part of the Sony BMG conglomerate. In 2003 and 2004, Ben Folds releases three EPs through his own distributorship, Attacked by Plastic. In 2005, Ben Folds releases his second solo LP, Songs for Silverman on Epic Records. He also releases a cover of Dr. Dre's "Bitches Ain't Shit" through iTunes. In the beginning of this year, Ben Folds contributes a few songs to the "Over the Hedge" soundtrack, including a Clash cover.

Now, it's October 2006 and Ben Folds releases Supersunnyspeedgraphic: The LP. This release serves as a compilation of highlights taken from the material released between his first and second solo records. While Rockin' the Suburbs featured delicate songs molded by sentiment, Songs for Silverman featured more solemn, reserved songs. While the former presented Folds as an aesthetic, creating a kaleidoscope of emotions, the latter presented Folds as an ascetic, reserved from feeling, almost simply stating facts in song form. This allowed the listener to come to his/her own conclusions about what mood the songs on Silverman were trying to create. Since the material on Supersunnyspeedgraphic was recorded between these two albums, it makes sense that the music is a mixture of both styles.

Although the new songs don't pulsate with the energy of early Ben Folds Five, the new LP weighs heavier on quick-tempo songs than the ballads. This creates an album that drives the listener, as opposed to one that glides in and out on whispers. With the ballads and slower songs, Folds utilizes the romanticism of his first solo LP, creating lush and tender songs. In opposition, the faster songs seem to be simple statements strung together, allowing the listener to come to his/her own version of the songs' central meanings. This is refreshing in an age of albums with force-fed conclusions. This technique makes the listener think as opposed to letting the album do the thinking.

Interestingly, Folds chose almost all of the covers from his EPs to be included on the new disc. Showing off his wide variety of influences, Folds' covers the Cure, the Divine Comedy, the Darkness, and Dr. Dre. The Dr. Dre cover, "Bitches Ain't Shit" was deemed as force-fed irony by some upon its initial release. However, there may be more to this song than Folds simply trying to be funny. When the song was originally released on Dre's The Chronic in 1993, Dr. Dre had felt betrayed by Eazy-E. Therefore, the tone of the song was one of anger and bravado. In the Folds version, regret and sadness are selected for the tone. Remember, Dr. Dre and Eazy-E were once good friends, meaning that while Dre was certainly angry, he was probably also hurt by his friend's betrayal. This shows that Folds has the capability to draw underlying meanings from old songs simply by changing the sound, leaving the lyrics intact. I like that. Of course, it's entirely possible that Folds was just trying to be funny and I am reading too deeply into this.

So, what's the purpose of this release? It's not a greatest hits package, but it's not really an original release either. It's an overview of the lesser known Folds work, but it also has new takes on previously released songs. It seems that Folds wanted to bring his music to a wider audience than had known of the EPs, but also give his faithful followers something new. With its new takes on older songs, this disc serves as an hor' dourves for newer fans and as a dessert for older ones.

How, by the way, is Ben Folds punk rock anyway? Well, his music isn't really that punk at all. It's slow, commercially appealing, and something your Grandma probably won't mind listening to. But, apparently, the man is big on the DIY ethic. All three EPs were recorded, released, and distributed by Folds himself without the Epic name branded onto them. This means no one censored Folds, told him what to say or how to say it on these releases. So, this new release is basically unfiltered Folds. Ben Folds as seen by Ben Folds. He did all this while still being retained on Sony's roster. Not many other artists on big labels can claim to have put out records without outside interference.

Music without censorship and filters is pretty punk. So, Folds continued to retain the benefits from being on a big label, but put out what he wanted to put out without anyone telling him what he could do. This also means that he probably got a bigger percentage, if not all, of the profit, from the EPs as he released them himself. Is that punk? Johnny Rotten would probably say it is. Jello Biafra would probably say it isn't. Like the meanings in Folds' music, the decision of what to think is left up to the listener.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (December 30, 2006)

Sara spelled without an "h" was getting booooooooored.......

Anonymous (December 28, 2006)

Crying is for pussies. Or at least that's what I've been telling myself my whole life. Seriously though, I've never had to "hold back tears" when listening to Ben Folds and I'm pretty sure I have a soul.

harry_the_dentist (December 28, 2006)

All You Can Eat is on one of the three EPs this collects material from. It is a great song and I heard him talking about it and he said he wrote it in a Waffle House which makes it better. Man I love Waffle House.

Anonymous (December 28, 2006)

Does anyone know where i can find the song he performed on Henry Rollin's show? I think it was called "All You Can Eat" or something like that.

Anonymous (December 28, 2006)

Ben Folds is one of my favourite artists but:

1) He's not punk by any reasonable stretch of the imagination.
2) These EPs might not have had the corporate logo on them, but you could still buy them via Sony's online store.
3) If you download his pre-Ben Folds Five demos you'll find that they're strangely horrible, despite the songs have the same structure and lyrics as what would appear on later releases.
4) This is worth getting for Bruised alone, a track from The Bens. Well, assuming you like Ben Folds that is.

Ianw (December 28, 2006)

Score is for Dr. dre's "The Cronic". One of the best albums of all time.

klonny (December 27, 2006)

Dude three post below me: Get a life. If your seriously 50 and bitching about how this site 'isn't punk enough', you must have some issues. I've seen news posts about Modest Mouse, Explosions In The Sky, Death Cab For Cutie, etc. Just get over it.

iknownothing (December 27, 2006)

Punk Roc... Huh?

I remember Brick... That was when there were 5... or was it just 3? Now there's only one?

Anonymous (December 27, 2006)

"i think ben folds once referred to his music as "punk rock for pussies"."

I think I once referred to PunkNews.com as "punk rock for pussies." And I was right.

I think I once referred to Ben Folds as post millennial Elton John.

I hate you all. I'm 50.

Anonymous (December 27, 2006)

Ben Folds is about as punk as Ben Kweller, or Crass.

You fucking kids don't know shit.

I'd like to pull your eyes out and fuck your skulls with my infected penis, delivering not one, but three good old STDs, crabs, and AIDS for good measure.

Scoop shit, suck scabs, fuck dogs, and die a thousand deaths while you visit this "punk" site.

Next week this punk site will feature a Beck review.

You bitchez ain't shit. Start a band and get on Myspace. That way you'll find fame.

I hate you all. I'm 50.

R3venge_Therapy (December 26, 2006)

That first paragraph in the review made me want to tear a hole in my screen just to remove it. BAD BAD BAAAAAD.

kirbypuckett (December 26, 2006)

OH NO A TYPO!!1111

- Kirby

historypeats (December 26, 2006)

I agree entirely with Godfather and skaboom.

Anonymous (December 26, 2006)

In your justification of Ben Folds as "punk" you forgot the most blatantly obvious reason.. his lyrics. Just on this EP alone you've got songs like "There's Always Someone Cooler Than You" and "Learn To Live With What You Are" that draw striking similarities to the kind of stuff Pennywise was singing about in the 90's.

Anonymous (December 26, 2006)

He sure does RIGHT many songs, Kirby!

kirbypuckett (December 26, 2006)

Ben Folds rights some good songs, but as a whole this collection feels kind of dull.

- Kirby

skaboom (December 26, 2006)

I don't know why they didn't include those 3 EPs in their entirety. They left some good material off.

Godfather (December 26, 2006)

this album isn't all that great but ben folds is still the man

Anonymous (December 26, 2006)

lets get high w/ ben.

Anonymous (December 26, 2006)

Ben Folds is amazing. If you're not holding back tears during "Carrying Cathy" or "Still Fighting It", then you may not have a soul.

fallingupwards84 (December 26, 2006)

was the history of Ben Folds releases really necessary in the first paragraph? i agree with the guy below me, this reads like a high school essay.

oh and i dont care what anyone says, Dr Dre's Chronic LP is incredible. pure gold.

danielsan (December 26, 2006)

distributorship?

fortyminuteswesterberg (December 26, 2006)

This review reads like the kind of sloppy essay you bust out in the last ten minutes of a high school test. You've memorized some ideas from the textbook that you're eager to put down before you can forget them, but you don't exactly have the time to make the thing interesting or well versed.

julianminutes (December 26, 2006)

i think ben folds once referred to his music as "punk rock for pussies".

i agree. i like ben folds.

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